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NBA 75 Series: #46 Kevin McHale

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

At #46 in my NBA 75 Greatest Players of All Time is a man who had insanely long arms, and a lanky frame, but turned into one of the best post players and Celtics of all time, and that is Kevin McHale. McHale was born on December 19, 1957, in Hibbing, Minnesota, to a part-Irish American father, Paul McHale, and Croatian-America mother, Josephine Starcevich.

McHale would attend Hibbings High School, where in his senior season he would be named Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball in 1976, helping lead his team to a runner up finish in the AA Minnesota State Championship game. He would end up choosing to stay closer to home for college, choosing to play for the University of Minnesota (the Golden Gophers) from 1976 to 1980 where he averaged 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.

He was named first team All-Big Ten in consecutive seasons in 1979 and 1980, becoming the school's second leader in career points (1,704) and rebounds (950).

McHale would go on to become the 3rd overall pick in the 1980 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics to join what would be considered the greatest frontcourt of all time alongside Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Robert Parish. McHale made an immediate impact and would be named All-Rookie First Team, helping the Celtics lead to a 62-20 record, eventually going on to win the championship over the Moses Malone-led Houston Rockets in 1981.

McHale became, arguably, the best post player ever, with an array of different moves and impeccable footwork, probably only rivaled by Olajuwon. His awkward, lanky 6-foot-10 frame made him a tough cover to go along with his shooting skills. He excelled in the bench role, winning back-to-back Sixth Man Of The Year awards (1984, 1985). He has the second highest points scored in a game in Celtics history (56), behind only his teammate Larry Bird (60), which broke McHale’s record just nine days later.

He would win three titles alongside Hall of Famers Dennis Johnson, Parish, and Bird. He used his physical gifts to excellent advantage during his 13-year career with the Boston Celtics, becoming one of the best inside players the game has ever seen and forming one of the greatest frontcourts in NBA history, alongside Bird and Parish. Former NBA coach, Hubie Brown stated, “He became the most difficult low-post player to defend — once he made the catch — in the history of the league. He was totally unstoppable because of his quickness, diversification of moves and the long arms that gave him an angle to release the ball over a taller man or more explosive jumper.”

McHale ranks among the Celtics top five all-time in points, games, and FG percentage. McHale is a seven-time All-Star, All-NBA first team (1987), six-time All-Defensive team member, and had his No.32 retired by the storied Celtics franchise.


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